back to article Israel suspected of 'hacking' Syrian air defences

Questions are mounting over how Israeli planes were able to sneak past Syria's defences and bomb a "strategic target" in the country last month. Israeli F-15s and F-16s bombed a military construction site on 6 September. Earlier reports of the attack were confirmed this week when Israeli Army radio said Israeli planes had …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "since a number of British fighters went down during the first Gulf War"

    I think we eventually reached agreement that they were "decimated".

  2. Dave

    who is near whom?

    "Witnesses said the Israeli jets were engaged by Syrian air defences in Tall al-Abyad, near the border with Turkey. This location is deep within Turkey, "

    Suppose that last should have read: "well east into Syria"? Google maps shows it is only *just* inside Syria from a Turkish perspective and about 200km from the Med

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Syrian Air Defence is a well known oxymoron

    I have heard the following from a person who was a "military advisor" on the ground during one of the old Bekaa valley raids Israel conducted 20+ years ago at the height of the conflicts in Southern Lebanon. Dunno how true is it, I am simply reproducing it.

    The story goes like this. One morning several Israeli jets show up in the valley turn around and return to Israel. All Syrian anti-aircraft systems go on red alert, track targets and prepare to fire but never engage because the targets never come in range.

    15-20 minutes later the bulk of the Israeli aviation arrives with the coordinates of the Syrian air-defence installations given to them by the scouts. Out of 50+ anti-aircraft installations survive two. The sole survivors were the only ones with military advisors present. One of them engaged the targets successfully and managed to take out an attacking jet.

    Not a single one manned by the Syrian managed to move the radars and launchers to backup positions after their primary positions were compromised. As a result every single one of them was wiped out.

    So frankly, it does not matter what they have bought from the Russians unless the Russians are manning it.

  4. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Do you mean Tornado losses?

    I thought the primary reason for the Tornado losses were not low flying but the questionable tactic of using the JP233 bomblet dispenser. This weapon required the Tornado pilots to fly a straight and predictable course whilst the JP233 actioned, and the losses were mainly due to hits from the large amounts of very conventional AAA fire. Interestingly, the US specifically asked for the RAF to fly the raids which were largely successful in grounding the Iraqi Air Force, as the US didn't have an alternative weapon. Nowadays the same mission would probably be done by cruise missiles, an option the RAF originally rejected as too expensive when it settled for the JP233.

    As for Suter etc, I have always suspected such "technologies" to be little more than deception cover stories to hide secret work in other areas. I mean, how would Suter hack its way in when most defence systems use hardened coms via fibre links, not radio signals? It reminds me of the old RAF story about nightfighter pilots in 1940-41 eating a special diet of carrots and thus having amazing nightvision, when the real reason for their improved capability was the first air-interception radar sets and improved ground control techniques. I suspect any budget for Suter is being quietly siphoned off into other black ops and kit whilst Congress is dazzled by the idea of a neat and clean superhax technology.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not surprising...

    zionists at it again in what they do best.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Turn about

    Would be interesting to see if this system could be used to turn a country's air defense system against itself.

  7. Paul F

    Seems odd to connect your MilNet to the Internet

    If it was "hacked" then it must be connected in some way to a broader external network. Some terminals plugged into both the Syrian military's internal network and the internet perhaps? If that's the case (as I'm sure it is in many militaries), it seems inexcusably stupid.

    Other possibilities, are that their net was "hacked" by someone on the inside, or that a team of gropos snuck across the border to gain physical access to a trunk line somewhere.

    Given that all three possibilities are plausible, especially given the industriousness of the Israeli military, I have to wonder what the true story is.

  8. Simon Ball

    RAF losses

    It was my impression that RAF fighter/bomber losses during the first Gulf War had more to with the characteristics of the JP-233 airfied denial weapon than they did with low flying per se - namely the necessity to fly straight and level for extended periods over heavily defended airfields at low altitude in order to deliver the bloody thing.

  9. Chris

    Operation: Screaming Fist?

    I hope Bill Gibson got royalties.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: not surprising...

    >zionists at it again in what they do best.

    Kicking crap out of Islamics hell bent on destroying Israel?

    Yeah, it's getting a little tedious.

    You'd think that after the first few dozen times the Israelis whipped 'em the Islamic states would figure it out - Allah likes Jews more than She likes Islamics - and quit trying.

    Also says something about the futility of trying to man modern weapon systems with eleventh century barbarians.

  11. Feargal Reilly

    @Matt Bryant and Simon Ball

    The story that the RAF losses were because of the attack vectors used deploying the JP233 is nothing more than that - a story.


    "A total of 6 Tornado GR1s were lost in action 5 of which were involved in loft-medium level attacks with 1,000lb bombs, and one tasked on a low level JP233 mission, which was lost some time after the attack."

    The JP233 had nothing to do with those losses.

  12. Joe Cooper


    "The whole operation was rather frightening to the flight crew, to say the least, since it required the aircraft to fly low, straight and level over an enemy airfield. There is a myth that a number of British Tornadoes were lost to Iraqi ground fire while carrying out JP233 attacks during Operation Desert Storm. Only one of the JP 233 missions were shot down, and that was three minutes after the attack had been completed. The other Tornado losses were incurred when lofting 'dumb' bombs on Iraqi air defense installations."

    (From Wikipedia's article on the JP-233)

  13. Matt Haswell

    Friend of a friend story no idea if it's true but it was a bloody good hack if it was.

    Iraq. First gulf war. CIA manage to intercept an order for laser printers going to a known front company for Saddam's military. It inserts an additional little "surprise" into them and lets them get sent out.

    First days of the war. Bombers go out - normal ones - to take out the AA sites.

    As the first wave appears on the radar they don't try and hide. Fairly anti-stealth you say?

    All the AA systems go into single user mode and have to fire with no radar and no other systems reachable. In the confusion 90% are bombed to bits.

    The surprise added was a small chip that snoops the ethernet they were connected to and if they saw lots of targetting info from radar systems then just to flood the network with a denial of service.

    Yup - the CIA had figured out that they had added laser printers onto the same simple network all the AA and radar was on.

    Who checks inside a printer that all the chips there are *supposed* to be there?

  14. Antoinette Lacroix


    are made for low level ingress, it's their very nature. There still is no other aircraft that can fly as fast while being so low. They are equipped with terrain following radar that can be linked to the autopilot. Tornado drivers can fly at treetop hight with IAS above 700kts, while sitting on their hands. The losses are entirely related to the JP233 delivery method. Flying straight over an enemy runway at > 420 kts at 200ft is known to be unhealthy. Most airfields were defended by ZSU-23s, capable of firing 4x2000 radar guided rounds/min.

    The USAF considered preceding SEAD sorties as unnecessary.

    Today, Tornados carry ALARMs. Those are stand-off missiles which can be fired directly, or are shot high above the target area from a safe distance. They then glide down on a parachute and wait for radar emissions.

    Sadly those nifty gadgets weren't availible back in 1980.

  15. John Stirling

    @Paul F

    The story states that Suter supplies data to the detection nodes. What if a cleverly crafted set of detection data were supplied that caused a buffer overflow (not that that would ever happen to a computer system) in a particularly well known piece of military architecture, leading to relevant data ending up in execution data space rather than detection data space?.

    If the buffer overflow was able to cause a reset at a vital moment, a freezing of the system, or most interestingly take over the system with new instructions that would be enormously interesting.

    Of course that would require a fair technological lead, and an intimate knowledge of the system being attacked. Since the author of this article knows at least the name of the system in question I think we can accept the second requirement for BAE, and personally I suspect that BAE probably leads Syria and Russia in military software terms (if not in clever hacker land) due to their close links with the US.

    I have no idea of how possible this might be, but since neither does anyone else unless they are list X and very very specifically experienced I guess we have to run with the rumour in the story unless anyone knows better?.

    Moving on to 'hardened coms' Matt Bryant,- if only that were practical, however trailing fibre around behind systems designed to be mobile is not entirely practical, so wireless is indeed used. And is not particularly less secure in a military sense. After all a permanent fibre needs signal boosting every now and again, and if you are near enough to intercept and relay a tight beam encrypted wireless signal you are close enough to drop a relay into fibre. It isn't entirely about protecting the signal - it's also about encrypting it well enough so that by the time the enemy can read it the information is no longer relevant. To a large extent it is assumed that all communications are intercepted - just hopefully not decrypted.

    Doncha just love the boys with big guns?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: JP233

    While I was forced to admit that the Tornado force was in fact "decimated" there was only one aircraft lost while on a mission carrying the "JP233 Suicidal death trap device".

  17. Michael Jackson

    EC-130 Compass Call

    Not really new.. a skunkworks product thats been in operation for quite a while... perfectly capable of doing everything described in the article from far beyond the reach of any deployed Syrian defenses.

  18. Gower


    I don't think this is some amazing security compro, its quite simply superior american fire power, its a sleepy morning, smoking some hash, check the radar is that a glitch, tap tap on the screen, no way are those two f15s streaking toward us...

    whoops too late.

  19. john frey

    Excellent source

    "Earlier reports of the attack were confirmed this week when Israeli Army radio said Israeli planes had attacked a military target "deep inside Syria", quoting the military censor."

    ...and in other news the White House confirms reports of success in Iraq.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm not a military or munitions expert but the minute I heard about the JP233 device I instantly thought "how bl**dy stupid!". The pilot had to fly at a set height in a straight line along the runway, and a bloke pointing an AK47 from the end of the runway could probably have bagged a Tornada without too much fuss.

    It did make me wonder whether the people who design and build these munitions systems had skipped out of school on the day they taught the "how not to be a dumbass" lesson.

  21. Gordon Ross Silver badge

    @Matt Haswell

    I nearly fell for this (laser printer passively snooping network. Once it sees "interesting" traffic, it launches a DoS attach on the network)

    Until I realised, that if this regime can afford laser printers, they can probably afford ethernet switches (and let's be honest, ethernet hubs are getting harder to come by nowadays anyway) And if we're using ethernet switches, our laser printers are going to see diddly squat interesting traffic.

    Unless, of course, the extra surprise in the laser printers was that they also including code to hack into switches and switch on port mirroring - in which case I think someone might have noticed utilisation on the port connecting to the printer going through the roof.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re: JP233

    ...and the one that *was* lost on a JP233 delivery mission was downed some time *after* the delivery of same while on its way back.

    As far as I am aware, nearly all the Tornadoes lost in GW1 were at altitude at the time delivering "dumb" free-fall munitions. If anything, the experience of GW1 went some way to prove that flying below radar was a Very Good Thing and flying higher where you can be detected and have SAM attack you is Not Such A Great Idea.


  23. Death_Ninja

    Take off your tinfoil hats

    New super hack weapon? Oh dear, too much Tom Clancy for you!

    A device that can fool the somewhat basic radar systems of the largely archaic Syrian air defence network with false returns is more likely. Maybe something new, but not "hack"

    As for the Tor-M, I suspect they "defeated" that by not actually flying anywhere near where the limited numbers are deployed. These systems (or any other come to that) were unlikely to be piled up around a "secret" construction site in the desert because that is pretty much like making a press release stating what it is and the GPS coordinates of it...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Israel's getting desperate

    Sounds like Israel's getting desperate, Bush's presidency is coming to a close, they still control the Congress (with Lieberman) but not enough to launch a war with American backing. So they do a few raids to try to stir up a counter-attack, so they can have an excuse to launch another invasion/war.

    I wish the USA would stop funding Israel's military to the tune of $3 billion a year, or at the very least require Israel account for the spending. I suspect that a few hundred million of that cash, goes straight back into Cayman island bank accounts with Sentators and Congressman's names on it, and that's why the US continues this funding and continues to turn a blind eye.

    Israel has no useful resources, it was a useful base in the 70's, but USA has bases in Iraq and Kuwait now, so that's not useful anymore. It has a tendency to try to stir it up with an propaganda, invasion or attacks, making it a trouble maker and a liability. And if wars never cost it any money, there's no incentive for them to build peace.

    So no reason to continue with this funding and every reason to stop it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spoofy Action

    Sounds like nonsense to me, these claims of 'hacking'. I suspect something far more feasible - spoofing of the radar return signals. Suitably crafted false signals would confuse the tracking, making the attacking aircraft appear to be where they are not. Throw in some drop tanks on the supposed flight path as further disinformation and Robert is your mother's brother.

  26. Lozzyho

    Tornado losses

    I had a friend who worked as a designer in BAe. He told me that Tornados came back from the gulf with what was effectively a film of glass on the jet blades, blocking lubrications nozzles, and causing ceasures.

    The glass was, of course, the result of sand being sucked into the engine and fusing onto the blades.

    Tornados are great planes, but they REALLY suck in that sense. ;-)

  27. M

    Isreal has form for this...

    .... at the start of the 6 day war Egypts air defense net mysteriously went down just as the Israeli airforce approached the border (having flown out to see and then come back in from what I remember), allowing Israel to pretty much nutralize the numerically superior Egyptian airforce which they caught lined up on their bases waiting for the alert that never came. The Egyptian airforce was taken out of play in a single day, giving Israel total air supremacy for that part of the battle and letting them concentrate on the smaller Syrian airforce.

    Its believed that this was either a case of panicy Egyptian Generals not trusting grunts on their own side with active missles while they were flying to a meeting (in which case Israel must have got the exact times of this to take advantage, a significant op in and of itself) or that Mossad penetrated Egyptian forces and deactivated the Air Defense system at the right moment.

    Either way, its one hell of a capability to have and has got to send a clear message to Syria..... Israel aint messin' about



  28. Adam Wynne

    @Anonymous Vulture

    "Allah likes Jews more than She likes Islamics" - fantastic! Made me smile. But lets not forget that those C11 'barbarians' invented algebra...and... um. ah.

    As for USA funding Israel, well, dur! Nothing to do with republican or democrat, all to do with massive Jewish population in America. Goddess bless em....

  29. Frank Bough

    Anonymous Vulture

    I think it's a little strong to call Israelis "11th century barbarians". They're 20th century barbarians, one and all.

  30. Gareth

    Windows for Warships now Windows for radars?

    Maybe they were rebooting after patch tuesday!

  31. Death_Ninja

    Tor-M ranges and more tinfoil hats

    Meant to add, Tor-M is a short/medium range SAM system... radar detection range 24 km (15 miles), engagement range is up to 12 km (1-7.5 miles) - a bit like British Rapier (but with a better hit/kill probability).

    Its not a super national air defence system, its a highly effective point defence system for high value targets.

    I suspect that all the ones the Syrians own are arrayed around the presidential palace.

    "Threading the needle" is fairly standard - you work out where to fly to avoid the detection/interception radius of known air defence systems. Almost certainly this was the ingress method, maybe assisted by jamming but the egress was obviously observed - they found those drop tanks PDQ for someone looking for a 4m object in a vast track of desert terrain quickly for people with "no idea" where to look.

    More BS propaganda to persuade the Syrians not to upgrade their defences... maybe they also employed CIA psychics to tell the Syrian missile crews not to fire...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hipocrasy -Falcon Hell

    Yeh, its sadly ironic that Israel's supposedly professonal millitary regularly kill 3 times as many Palestinian civilians as the Palestinians kill Israelite civilians, The Isaelites use cluster bombs, but the Palestinians are the terrorists?

    It seems when "official" bombs kill civilians its, "collateral damage, but an unofficial bomb is terrorism. What bullshit.

    Bush has been the worst US president in my memory of the last 45 years. Probably worst ever.

    Being against the actions of Isreal is NOT being anti semetic, any more than objecting to Burmas governments actions is anti Buddhist.

    I'm not racist, I dislike "users" of all all races colours and creeds without any bias at all(:

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Israel's getting desperate

    Since the Camp David peace accords in 1978 , the U.S. has annually given Israel $1.8 billion in regular military aid and Egypt $1.3 billion for the same. Both countries also receive regular economic aid from the U.S. This is an over simplification of complex foreign aid formulas but still more accurate than the popular claim that the U.S. unconditionally funds Israeli military alone. Interested parties can google the details for themselves.

  34. Alistair

    Death-tech on standby

    The interesting thing is what they were bombing. Obviously the Isrealis and the Yanks knew. But who in Syria knew? Maybe the "hash-smoking barbarians" learned from their earlier mistake over Golan and kept their new radars switched off until the jets approached some kind of recognised target. Seeing them attach some patch of remote desert for no apparent reason, the Syrians could be excused for thinking they'd succeeded in not being fooled again. Unless there really was something of value hidden out there, that they probably never know about.

  35. dave butler

    Arabs Invented Algebra

    Actually they got it from the Indians around 750. Also I believe it was the Persians....

  36. Matthew Saroff

    This Report is Self-Serving Contractor Agitprop

    What happened was good, old fashioned mission planning and intelligence.

    This is a defense contractor feeding a story out to generate business for themselves.

    The Israelis determined where the sites were, how and when they operated, and set up the strike accordingly. Much less high tech than BAE's "Suter".

    As to high tech, I would remind everyone that that F-117 Stealth Fighter that got shot down over Yugoslavia happened because it flew the same route, at the same time, 3 days in a row.

    I go into this at

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Real Method


  38. Dougthedug

    Jamming rather than Hacking

    You could hack an air defence network just like any other network by tapping in and decrypting the signals on the net, physical or wireless, but not from the air via the radar receivers.

    "The process involves locating enemy emitters with great precision and then "directing data streams into them that can include false targets and misleading message algorithms.""

    I can certainly understand them confusing or jamming the radars. Jamming's been done since they started it in WW II by dropping tinfoil cut to the wavelength of the radars they wanted to jam and this sounds much more like jamming or feeding false targets or false IFF information into the radar receivers than, "hacking".

    The Aviation week article seems a bit breathless and unquestioning about the whole story.

  39. Ross

    Boring but...

    If this were a Hollywood blockbuster they'd have laser beams that magically hack into the radar stations, or they would be doing sideband analysis of the outbound radar pulses, or buffer overflows using specially crafted echo signatures etc.

    However this is the boring real world, and given the information we have we can say :

    1) They can "see" what the enemy can see because they have up to date sat and aerial photography of the enemy radar installations so they know where they are and possibly where they point.

    All you need to do is model the characteristics of the radar in its given location taking into account hills, trees etc and you can see what it sees (or at least know what it can theoretically see.

    There is no need to have network access.

    2) Radars point at things a bit like the Eye of Sauron - they don't have a permanent 360 degree view. You can therefore point them where you want by making the radar operator think "omg there are 200 planes inbound over there" when in fact there are 12 coming from the newly created blind spot. We know if they fell for the ruse because of point 1 above.

    How do you make him think there are 200 planes over there? Well you can do it the old fashioned way and actually put 200 planes up in the sky, or send radar echoes that match certain battlefield objects (in this instance 200 planes)

    How do you do that? I'd guess either F-15s fitted with this Suter thingy, or satellites.

    It's all about modelling when it comes down to it - landscape, enemy radar tech and echo signatures. There is no uber mind control haxxing going on.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the bloody tornados again

    Look, the Tornado is a pretty standard piece of UK kit - its so bad that no-one actually expecting to use it will buy the blasted thing. The key issue on the Tornado / JP233 wasn't the JP233 suicide special, which is a symptom, rather than the main issue. What did the RAF in 1991 was that its entire doctrine was quite insane - and had been since the 1970s.

    In 1991 all of the RAF casualties were operating against Iraqi airfields. RAF doctrine at the time was that this was the RAF speciality. In reality without this form of operation the entire existence of the RAF was in doubt. The RAF couldn't compete with Stealth or Cruise Missiles. That meant that the USAF could do most things better, with more people, more often than the RAF. So the RAF chose a speciality that the USAF would not compete with - if only because the USAF has stealth and cruise missiles and doesn't need to throw people away. The RAF aim was to drive fast and low, drop the bomb, and run, the Americans simply bombed.

    The idea that the Americans needed to *ask* the RAF to anything as stupid as an airfield attack is simply risible - it was all the British had to bring to the party. After the British spectacularly failed the USAF simply sent some F111s using laser guided weapons to the Iraqi airfields. In 1991 the British on the other hand, had to pull ancient Buccaneers out of cold storage as they had laser guidance and the Tornados didn't.

    Sadly for the RAF pilots who died in practise over 20 years the entire thing was a failure. It turns out that in real life, somewhere in the middle of the low-level airfield attack, loads of people armed with everything from rocks to AK47s and SAMs are going to be shooting. Imagine that. The RAF had an entire battalion of infantry that specialises in defending an airfield so its unlikely that the RAF didn't know that this might happen.

    The numbers are grim - the RAF Tornadoes took 10 per cent casualties within seven days of the start of their anti-airfield operations - an overall loss rate of 0.15% per sortie (and most sorties were simply stooging around). The entire the Coalition air force? 0.05 per cent casualties per sortie in the entire Desert Storm operation (and that includes the massive RAF casualties). The two numbers are frightening when compared. Bear in mind this doctrine was intended to go against a real Soviet air defence mobilised for World War 3 in East Germany, not some 3rd world nation listed until 1901 under "where?". The RAF casualty rate was unacceptable even against the Iraqis - against the Russians the RAF would have been completely ineffective. Today, in 2007, the RAF justifies this kind of operation after the event by claiming, more or less, that it paralysed Iraqi air operations. This didn't stop the Iraqi airforce in 1991 flying to Iran. Details, eh? The alternative would be to say that the RAF high command, for nearly 15 years, were living in a dream-world and advocated tactics that would have made the Light Brigade look askance. That would be cripplingly embarrassing so it'll have to wait another 30 years or so to be confirmed.

    The net result was that the RAF doctrine from the 1970s died in 1991, taking JP233 and the Tornado with it. Post Gulf War 1 the RAF went heavily into medium and high altitude smart weapons as seen in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq 2. The Storm Shadow, a second rate Cruise Missile, is part of this new realism. The entire low level doctrine was dumped, along with everything to do with it, and this remains the case.


    The Aviation Myths website (which I suspect Wiki is quoting) is right in strict detail, but utterly wrong via sins of omission.

    Of the 5 aircraft shot down *all* were on high speed low-level anti airfield attacks. Its just that the JP233 was so specialised that not all the planes needed it. The JP233 cannister was intended to slow down the bulldozers repairing the big holes in the runway from the 1000 pounders. Basically the aim was to use submunitions to make it take a half a day, rather than an hour. The specific plane that took 3 minutes to auger in did so because it took that long for the entire flight system to seize up. It took the missile hit on the way out of the target area. Saying that it was 3 minutes later is more than a little sly - the proximate cause was the low level airfield attack.

  41. Adam White

    Paragraph 7

    As Dave pointed out, there seems to be a geographic error in paragraph seven. The story makes more sense if you read "Turkey" as "Syria" in this bit.

  42. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    RE: John Stirling

    Hard comms can be as simple as telephone cable - though metal-cored cables are easily located. Even the US still makes much use of good old cable as it is cheap, easy to use and easy to store. I have even heard of foreign units in the field using RS232 cabling to link British-built artillery systems (one whopper was a link of 124km, waaaaaay beyond RS232 spec, but it still worked!).

    And there are plenty of hardened comms in the ME, mainly because the defence designs are largely static and fibre is virtually impossible to intercept without digging up the cables. Iraq had miles and miles of fibre cable connecting Iraqi-based HQs and air defence posts, it was only after special forces (SAS included) cut the cables that the Iraqis were forced to use the very jammed radiowaves. Their units in Kuwait didn't have the fibre net and so fell easy victim to EW.

    Like Iraq, Syria has invested heavily in a dedicated fibre net (like Iraq, largely installed by German companies) as they have plenty of experience of Israeli jamming and deception measures. Israel has historically mounted many missions to find and neutralise hard-cabled networks, going right back to the Suez affair when they used low-flying Mustangs to cut Egyptian telephone lines. When the Syrians bought their Tor-Ms the Russians admitted they were not mobile units but static ones for point defence, so it is highly likely they are wired into the fibre net along with the rest of the new Russian Pachora gear. A wireless link is highly unlikely, and given the Arab tendency to paranoia, a link to the 'net unthinkable.

    And the US has a history of badmouthing low-level attacks from the Sixties. Instead, they talked up computerised dive-bombing, much used in Vietnam by Phantoms and Thunderchiefs, which actually proved less accurate than manual low-level runs by Australian Canberra B2s of 2Sq RAAF, and more costly in aircraft losses. High-and-fast usually also means in plain view, and the VietCong had plenty of AAA and agile MiGs that often flew low to stay off US radar. The US had to develop large group tactics and fly four support aircraft (forward sweep, escort, and EW) to every aircraft actually bombing the target.

    Eventually, the F111 was equipped with terrain-following radar, and it was only with this technology that the F111 became a success. Ever since the USAF has doggedly defended the high-and-fast attack, despite it needing four times as many aircraft to achieve the same results. Some USAF pilots called the original Tomahawk cruise missile "the lifesaver" as it meant they didn't have to make anymore high-speed dives under computer control into flak!

  43. Eric Pinkerton
    Gates Horns

    @Gordon Ross

    >if we're using ethernet switches, our laser printers are going to see diddly squat interesting traffic.

    Unless we are ARP poisoning, but it still sounds a little too 'Tom Clancy' for my liking!

  44. Stephen Oliver
    Paris Hilton

    Bekkaa Air War et al.

    For an excellent account of Syrian failings in the Bekaa Valley Air Battle read

    It looks like the Israelis tried the same trick again according to ALASTAIR CROOKE of Conflict Forums.

    "The Syrians saw on their radars the four fighters that penetrated into Northern Syria from the Mediterranean; but they also saw the much larger numbers of Israeli aircraft that were flying in a holding position close to Cyprus. The Syrians were not about to disclose their anti-aircraft missile capacities to Israel; and the intruders dropped the munitions and their long-range fuel tanks without pressing any attack, but returned to join the larger group still flying a holding pattern off Cyprus before all returned to Israel as a single formation."

    The Turkish Air Force also operates F-15s and F-16s so if the Israeli aircraft approached over Turkish territory, it is unlikely that the Syrians could be sure of where the planes came from.

    With German warships off Lebanon and a British airbase and long-distance radar station on Cyprus, any claim that NATO didn't know about these events is spurious.

    If the Germans have any sense (after the USS Liberty attack by the Israelis) then the warships off Lebanon are likely to be Sachsen class air-defense frigates. These are fitted with SMART-L which is probably the most capable long-range radar in the world able to detect aircraft at a range of 750km. For such a warship, located of southern Lebanon, the entire Syrian coast and much of the Turkish coast is within range at less than 400km.

    I don't know how capable the British radar on top of Mt Olympus in the Troodos range of Cyprus is, but I have seen reports a while back which suggests that it fully covers most of the Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli coasts and someway in land.

    Furthermore, I think the news today that radar on UN ships off Lebanon is disrupting Israeli satellite TV is a complete red herring. It is most likely an attempt to shut down the radar so that the Israelis can do what they want without others knowing. The only other interpretation is that the Israelis are worse than Hezbollah at handling satellite TV signals or their disruption. Hezbollah, after all, managed to keep their satellite channel on air throughout the war last year despite considerable efforts by the Israelis to jam it.

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